How Square Wheels stop The North Korea Leadership Style in any company

The North Korea Leadership Style? You know, The Dictatorship. The cultures where The BOSS * tells people what to do because they know best, expecting people to simply follow along wholeheartedly.

It’s that style that Jim Clifton, CEO of Gallup was probably thinking of when he said that his data supported getting rid of “The Managers from Hell” and generating more of the behaviors we see with the top performing ones. (My article here and here and Clifton’s article here)

There is simply a lot of data out there, from a bazillion different sources, showing that supervisors and managers can simply do a better job of facilitation discussions about the workplace and working with their people to define better ways of getting things done. Involvement is so closely linked to engagement and alignment and discussions about issues and opportunities will relieve a lot of the frustration that most people report. If you had a situation where you simply had a better idea that would benefit you and others, wouldn’t you like the opportunity to share that idea and have it listened to by someone who could make a difference?

How would you define Facilitation?

For many people, based on the data, it would seem that a lot of people would liken it to Fear of Public Speaking, something dreadful and dangerous. Asking for ideas from people might open up that can of worms and cause all sorts of issues and problems. So, why would one possibly want to do that? (answer: engagement and motivation).

My own definition of Facilitation would stress that, in Spanish and other languages, facil means “easy” or “requiring little skill.” After all, it is the perception that asking for ideas generates worms and spiders and other creepy crawlies but that is not the reality. ASKING for ideas is really pretty simple.

To facilitate the process of such behavior (linking it to motivation, innovation, and involvement), we have packaged up The Stupidly Simple Square Wheels Facilitation Toolkit.

an engagement toolkit by square wheels guy Scott Simmerman

For $25, you get instructions and explanations, handouts, powerpoints of the concept, and all the tools you need to involve and engage people in helping to step back from the wagon, identify the Square Wheels® and generate round wheels solutions.

Help your leaders to escape from North Korea and move to the sunshine of one of the fine beaches of the world. Get them out of the ditch of despair and up on the road of improvement. It isn’t hard; Just Ask!

a Dr. Seuss poem by Scott Simmerman

For the FUN of It!

Dr. Scott SimmermanDr. Scott Simmerman is a designer of team building games and organization improvement tools. Managing Partner of Performance Management Company since 1984, he is an experienced presenter and consultant.

 
Connect with Scott on Google+ – you can reach Scott at scott@squarewheels.com

Follow Scott’s posts on Pinterest: pinterest.com/scottsimmerman/
Scott’s quips and quotes on Poems on The Workplace is here.

Square Wheels® is a registered trademark of Performance Management Co.
LEGO® is a trademark of The LEGO Group

* By the way, BOSS spelled backwards is self-explanatory…

Best Practices – Performance Shortcuts that need sharing

My thinking for the past 30 years has been about people and performance, about innovation and peer support for change and all that stuff.

In LinkedIn this afternoon, Ingrid Kelada shared an image from Arvin Jayanake that caught my eye since it illustrated so much about how things really work in so many organizations. (I do not know the source for this, even after a search, so please advise if you know the ownership.)

shortcut

If you have spent any time on a college campus, you have seen this reality.

The best way to build drainage for a new road is to build the road and then watch how it floods… THEN, build the drainage. A desk is a dangerous place from which to view the world, especially when you are trying to generate optimal performance and “control behavior.” Do what works best; design from that perspective.

It is the same thing in organizations. The best way to operate is the best way to operate!

In reality, lots of organizations REALLY operate like the illustration above, with the exemplary performers using the shortcuts and doing things differently (to generate the exemplary results) and the average performers using the walkways like they were trained. We see these Best Practice paths everywhere, but a typical HR or management response to this situation is to build the wall across the shortcut!

My approach says that we simply need to step back from the wagon and look at how things are really working, finding those square pathways that can be improved in some way so that more people can operate more effectively. It looks like this when the top performers can get the attention of leadership:

Square Wheels and teambuilding games by Scott Simmerman

Don’t Just DO Something, Stand There! Those best practice ideas already exist and we simply need to take the time to share some of them with the people who are pushing the wagons forward.

POEMS For the FUN of It!

Dr. Scott SimmermanDr. Scott Simmerman is a designer of team building games and organization improvement tools. Managing Partner of Performance Management Company since 1984, he is an experienced presenter and consultant.

 
Connect with Scott on Google+ – you can reach Scott at scott@squarewheels.com

Follow Scott’s posts on Pinterest: pinterest.com/scottsimmerman/
Scott’s quips and quotes on Poems on The Workplace is here.

Square Wheels® is a registered trademark of Performance Management Co.
LEGO® is a trademark of The LEGO Group

We just released our new toolkit for improving organizational communications. Check it out:

an engagement toolkit by square wheels guy Scott Simmerman

 

 

A “Stupidly Simple” Square Wheels Facilitation Toolkit

I just uploaded a new and improved engagement toolkit, wrapped around using my Square Wheels image. I include both the LEGO as well as the line-art versions of the images.

For $25, you get the powerpoints, handouts, instructions and ideas on how to share the image and generate involvement around ideas for improving the workplace. You also get me, since I continue to support the work personally, so you can email me questions or thoughts about how to optimize results using these tools.

an engagement toolkit by square wheels guy Scott Simmerman

You get worksheets and handouts and posters, the tools to both get things started and keep the wheels turning:

the worksheet handout for engagement of ideas

handout for supporting engagement and involvement

These are great tools and simple to use.  They easily link to innovation and creativity initiatives and also work for improving teamwork and communications. Since leadership is also about teambuilding and alignment, you will find this approach to be simply effective,

For the FUN of It!

Dr. Scott SimmermanDr. Scott Simmerman is a designer of team building games and organization improvement tools. Managing Partner of Performance Management Company since 1984, he is an experienced presenter and consultant.

 
Connect with Scott on Google+ – you can reach Scott at scott@squarewheels.com

Follow Scott’s posts on Pinterest: pinterest.com/scottsimmerman/
Scott’s quips and quotes on Poems on The Workplace is here.

Square Wheels® is a registered trademark of Performance Management Co.
LEGO® is a trademark of The LEGO Group

Stupidly Simple Thoughts on Employee Engagement

It took me about two seconds to come up with the title for this post, after looking at a number of different posts around ideas for engagement and ideas for improving performance this morning. I put up a couple of things on my scoop.it page on Employee Engagement and I was completing a chapter for a book, so some thinking around the issue was fresh.

the scoop.it page of scott simmermanThere is a lot of writing around what to do and how well things are working. Generally, the information provided by Gallup and Sirota and others suggests that little is actually improving. It begs the question, why not.

My belief is simple: there is not enough effective communications going on between the supervisor and the workers. There is not enough alignment to visions and goals and expectations, not enough or sufficient performance feedback (and I do not mean coaching here — see this analysis) and there is not nearly enough listening or asking questions by the management team.

So, why not?

• Is it task interference? Do the supervisors simply have too little time to devote to listening about issues and opportunities?

• Is it an actual lack of employee interest in what is going on in their workplace?

• Is it the reality of measurement, and that workers just do not have the scheduled time available to them to be in meetings with their boss?

• Is it somehow related to the overall training and development goals of the organization, in that these meetings should be produced and directed by the people in Training and Development or HR and that developmental and coaching discussions with people are not the role of the managers?

• Is it a disconnect between the manager and the supervisor when it comes to themes of productivity and employee retention and performance levels?

I am not really sure, but I do know that the opportunity for improvement absolutely exists and that it IS relatively easy to involve and engage people and get their ideas about workplace improvement and job performance skills and techniques. And I know that we can improve real teamwork and collaboration with this same approach.

Let me illustrate with two simple thoughts, expressed through my Square Wheels® theme and thinking:

Square Wheels illustration about playing with ideas

and then there is this reality:

square wheels illustration on supporting change

Is this really so HARD to accomplish? Aren’t you pretty sure that people have ideas for improvement and will share those ideas in a meeting and discussion? Sure, if the workplace has a poor history of engagement and innovation (“bad managers” abound, the research suggests), you should expect some initial venting of frustration. But most people DO have positive intentions and DO want to have a positive impact on things. They get intrinsic motivation from doing things successfully.

Implementing Round Wheels in a Square Wheels World is not all that difficult to accomplish.

If you don’t believe it, go ask somebody!

And if you are looking for a simple tool to better involve and engage, we just uploaded the new “Stupidly Simple Square Wheels Toolkit” on our website – $25 with instructions and tools.

an engagement toolkit by square wheels guy Scott Simmerman

For the FUN of It!

Dr. Scott SimmermanDr. Scott Simmerman is a designer of team building games and organization improvement tools. Managing Partner of Performance Management Company since 1984, he is an experienced presenter and consultant.

 
Connect with Scott on Google+ – you can reach Scott at scott@squarewheels.com

Follow Scott’s posts on Pinterest: pinterest.com/scottsimmerman/
Scott’s quips and quotes on Poems on The Workplace is here.

Square Wheels® is a registered trademark of Performance Management Co.
LEGO® is a trademark of The LEGO Group

 

 

 

 

Perspective: Stepping Back from The Wagon

Life is funny. Seriously…

There is a great story about Scott Adams and how his Dilbert cartoons got started. It was shared in LinkedIn, which had the hotlink to the article. You can go to that story by clicking on this link. It is a laugh, and goes on to share some of the realities of “Corporate Life.” (Is that an oxymoron?)

I shared that HBR – Dilbert link with my partner and my son, who is getting involved with the business and my son reflected back to me with a simple email:

Very clever….sort of.  Funny how a lot of people could have done the exact same thing, but he was able to step back and disengage from it and see look at it from afar to bring it into perspective.  There’s a lesson here somewhere…

My partner / his mother saw his response and then emailed me:

Yes, I just read that from the email you had sent to Jeff and saw Jeff’s comments about it. Quite interesting and shows how one person can, as Jeff said, step back and take a different kind of initiative.

My reaction to the second, anchored in the first is an email back to her, saying:

THAT is the whole point of what I have been trying to teach for 20 years!!! The Round Wheels are already in the wagon!

I’ve been talking about the need to step back from the wagon to see things that might not normally be seen for 20+ years; this is one of the key learning points underlying my thinking around Square Wheels.

Don’t Just DO Something, Stand There!

Step back and see things from a different perspective. Take a few minutes to talk with other people who might see things differently. Everyone brings their own viewpoint to a discussion so ASK instead of TELL.

For example, there is this poster:

square wheels image by scott simmerman

And there is this one, about Team Perspective:

square wheels lego image by Scott Simmerman

Sometimes, it takes a whack in the side of the head to realize that one has maybe not communicated that well. A major point to all these images and themes that I have been sharing is that perspective is a most wonderful thing.

Ya think?

Generating a new perspective on things is an important skill for coaching, innovating and change. The skill of “stepping back from the wagon” acts to generate dissociation, the viewing from another perspective. Seeing things from different angles allows you to generate alternatives, and these considered alternatives form the basis of managing change and innovating services. If you keep seeing things the same way, change and improvement are simply much harder.

For employee engagement, can’t each of us figure out some way to get our people to look around and see things from a different perspective once in a while? That is what my tools are for, in part.

Square Wheels Icebreaker is simple to use

For the FUN of It!

Dr. Scott SimmermanDr. Scott Simmerman is a designer of team building games and organization improvement tools. Managing Partner of Performance Management Company since 1984, he is an experienced presenter and consultant.

 
Connect with Scott on Google+ – you can reach Scott at scott@squarewheels.com

Follow Scott’s posts on Pinterest: pinterest.com/scottsimmerman/
Scott’s quips and quotes on Poems on The Workplace is here.

Square Wheels® is a registered trademark of Performance Management Co.
LEGO® is a trademark of The LEGO Group

 

Nobody Ever Washes a Rental Car – Ownership and Herding Cats

Nobody ever washes a rental car is a phrase I have been using in workshops and in my writings since the mid-80s to describe the basic issues around ownership involvement and engagement. The basic concept is simple: people do not take care of things very well unless they have a feeling of ownership about them.

The reason I bring this up is funny, in a way. I had written a chapter for a to-be-published book and the editor makes the change giving the attribution of this quite to someone who published an article in 2002. That was a bit insulting, actually, that she made the change without asking me. Just Do It is not always a good strategy when making changes to someone else’s hard work. Plus, she also added the comment that the phrase was actually “in dispute.”

Seriously? Of course, someone in a workshop will pipe up something like, “I washed one once” when referring to their own car-renting experiences, but under a followup question, they also admit that they did it because they totally trashed the car and were worried that the rental agency would fine them or something, or that their spouse was so appalled by the awfulness of the exterior that he or she would not get into that car!

The explanation actually reinforces my point precisely. People do NOT take very good care of things they do not own. The reality is that some people might actually wash a rental car, but they sure don’t take good care of them. It reminds me of the old joke:

What goes faster than any police car, handles speed bumps and potholes like a Humvee, corners faster with more screeching tires than a drifting WMV, and can crash through small trees and bushes like a tank?

Give up? It’s a Rental Car!!

If you have ever owned a house you rented, you will know precisely what I mean. Or, if you ever lent someone some of your tools or a book, you may come to understand that the ownership has just been functionally transferred…

“But Scott,” you might say, “You write on issues of people and performance, about organizational improvement. What is this “rental car” stuff?”

Simply put, you cannot expect the people to support you to buy into ideas for improvement and change unless they have some ownership involvement in generating those ideas or in putting together an implementation plan. It might look something like this:

square wheels image by Scott Simmerman

On the left, we have typical organizational reality – leader pulling and people pushing and not much alignment, engagement or communications.

On the right, we have people actively involved in making improvements to the situation, with the obvious support of the manager and others. Taking time to be involved generates engagement, can help to implement better processes, and can generate peer support and even more organizational successes down the road.

Lastly, let me end with the line-art illustration we first used in 1993 to illustrate this concept. The cartoon is actually named, Nobody ever washes a rental car, and it addresses one other issue of successfully implementing change and improvement. It looks like this:

square wheels image by scott simmerman

In this case, you might consider that the wagon is now  beginning to roll downhill faster than the wagon puller finds comfortable. When people feel pushed, they generally push back and resist the change. It is ownership, again, but in a situation reverse to the above. Managers can also resist changes and ideas brought to them from the teams. It is a natural thing for those who are facilitating change and innovation.

If you are interested, we sell a simple and straightforward toolkit for impacting employee ownership:

square wheels image toolkit

Leadership is not a simple thing. So, Heads up! Engage them where you can.

For the FUN of It!

Dr. Scott SimmermanDr. Scott Simmerman is a designer of team building games and organization improvement tools. Managing Partner of Performance Management Company since 1984, he is an experienced presenter and consultant.

 
Connect with Scott on Google+ – you can reach Scott at scott@squarewheels.com

Follow Scott’s posts on Pinterest: pinterest.com/scottsimmerman/
Scott’s quips and quotes on Poems on The Workplace is here.

You can find some powerful tools for impacting corporate teambuilding and improving organizational performance at our website, featuring The Search for The Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine and our Square Wheels tools:

teambuidlng products by scott simmerman

Square Wheels® is a registered trademark of Performance Management Co.
LEGO® is a trademark of The LEGO Group

Simple thoughts on Rewards and Performance

I thought to weigh in here with a few thoughts on reinforcement and performance. I am going to keep things really simple and straightforward and try to address a few misconceptions.

As background, a doctorate in behavioral neuropsychology and many years of working on animal behavior and rewards, plus 10 years of doing “behavioral consulting for organizational performance kinds of things,” both external and internal with small and big organizations. Add to that about 40 years of reflecting on organizational cultures and performance.

I view the issue in a very simple way: square wheels lego by scott simmerman

Simple Thoughts:

  • That which gets rewarded gets repeated.
  • Behavior is modified with things that are perceived as rewarding, be they rewards or simply feedback related to behavior.
  • Immediate rewards are far more effective than delayed rewards.
  • Most performance feedback is delayed and relatively ineffective – see these 3 posts (articlearticlearticle)
  • Contingent rewards are those that can be directly related back to behavior by the performer.
  • Extrinsic rewards are ineffective for most people in the workforce. What is an effective extrinsic reward varies greatly among individuals.
  • Punishment generates a wide variety of unanticipated (but expected) negative behaviors (including sabotage)
  • Like Punishment, extrinsic rewards can generate all kinds of unanticipated and negative behaviors among the body of the workforce, sometimes called Superstitious Behavior.
  • Negative Reinforcement is the removal of a negative stimulus — it is NOT at all the same as Punishment. (You behave and I get off your back is a negative reinforcement situation. You behave and I get on your back is punishment.)
  • The existence of other people in the workplace tends to complicate the simplicity – peer support is very powerful and maybe the most powerful reward system in place in the workplace.

People sometimes perform in the hopes that they will get recognized by the boss. In so many situations, that is superstitious behavior, like blowing on dice before throwing them or saying some kind of “okay baby” kind of verbalization which you link to the behavior.

What we know from 50 years of research is that intrinsic rewards are much more effective than any possible extrinsic ones. People do things mostly for their own reasons and all we can do is impact those things in some modest ways — they behave because of their values and expectations more than rewards, for the most part. We even know that small rewards are much better than large ones if they are extrinsic.

In so many workplaces, things are so bad that some managers think an annual appraisal of performance might be an effective motivator of specific desired behavior on a daily basis.

We also know that such formal appraisals rarely change actual performance; what is effective is the goal setting for the self-attainment of the individual and the issues around clarifying expectations and generating alignment to shared goals.

A post today shared the tweet that recognition should happen with 24 hours of someone accomplishing something. Sure, that is better than none or something a week later, but even 24 hours is not very good. Imagine learning to play the piano if you could not hear the notes for even 2 minutes!

Yes, something is better than nothing, but delayed reinforcement is hardly effective in any real sense, at least to reward some specific behavioral result.

What can happen is that people imagine that they will get some management or peer recognition, and that predicted result can be modestly rewarding. When that does NOT occur, though, expectations are reduced and the next occurrence will have less effect.

Far better than an extrinsic reward system is a solidly designed and implemented performance feedback system. Take a look at the simple feedback analysis that should generate some ideas about possible changes in performance management in the workplace. Changing the actual feedback in an effective way is a wonderful motivator for self-improvement and change.

Some Simple Ways to Motivate:

  • Involve and engage them in team-based organizational improvement initiatives or innovation initiatives where they have no fear of failure and get regular positive attention from the management team as well as each other.
  • Allow people to get actively involved and develop a sense of ownership in some aspect of their work that is important to them.
  • Be careful of not telling too much, Few people like to be told what to do – give them some framework and ask them for how to best approach things. Coach more than manage / manipulate. Nobody ever washes a rental car. Do things with them more than to them. People resist when pushed.
  • Clarify their roles and align them to shared goals and visions and help them to have clear expectations as to what is desired and feedback about how well they do on a constant basis.
  • Make them feel as if they are valued contributors to the work effort and have a positive impact on group results. Remember that 50% of the people in any workgroup will be above the group average but that 50% will also be below that average; note that ALL people contribute to results.
  • Look for ways to allow individual growth and skill improvement. People like to improve their competencies and performance. Support personal growth and allow for differences.

None of this is rocket science. Remember that YOU probably got promoted to management because you responded well to extrinsic motivators, which is the most common way organizations structure work environments. But also remember that not everyone likes extrinsic rewards in the same way. Extrinsic rewards are most likely NOT motivating many of those people in the lower half of the workgroup. (See more on extrinsic motivation here and here.)

These are my thoughts on the issues around motivating people and improving workplace performance results. Results differ based on any number of factors, but these are the basics. I hope that you got ONE good idea from going through these learning points.

For the FUN of It!

Dr. Scott SimmermanDr. Scott Simmerman is a designer of team building games and organization improvement tools. Managing Partner of Performance Management Company since 1984, he is an experienced presenter and consultant.

 
Connect with Scott on Google+ – you can reach Scott at scott@squarewheels.com

Follow Scott’s posts on Pinterest: pinterest.com/scottsimmerman/
Scott’s quips and quotes on Poems on The Workplace is here.

Square Wheels® is a registered trademark of Performance Management Co.
LEGO® is a trademark of The LEGO Group

 

We sell a variety of simple Square Wheels® tools for improving engagement and communications.  Square Wheels Icebreaker is simple to use